'We Still Call Him Giorgio'

Pope Francis quietly celebrates a 10-year milestone
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 13, 2023 11:34 AM CDT
'We Still Call Him Georgio'
White smoke emerges from the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, on March 13, 2013. The white smoke indicates that a new pope has been elected.   (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)

It's been 10 years since a guy named Jorge Bergoglio became the leader of 1.3 billion Catholics, with the white smoke emerging from the Sistine Chapel to signal that a new pope—the first from Latin America—had been selected. The then-76-year-old Pope Francis was seen as an agent of change at a time when the church was battered by scandal after scandal. As Reuters reports, Francis marked the decade in somewhat quiet fashion with a Mass with gathered cardinals in the chapel of the Vatican's Santa Marta hotel, where he has lived for the 10 years since his election—eschewing the papal apartment occupied by his predecessors. A look around his decade:

  • The AP runs through highlights of Francis' reign, including the first meeting between a pope and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, and the very unusual event of one pope overseeing the funeral of another.
  • The Guardian notes that Francis has also eschewed his predecessors' practice of summering in Castel Gandolfo, and instead opened the fortress to the public. "We still call him Giorgio," says a cousin. "He is the ultimate person, and still has quite a strong head despite his age."
  • In an editorial, Vatican News runs through the early days of Francis' papacy, remembering that he chose his name after St. Francis of Assisi, whom he called "the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation." He soon called for "a church that is poor and for the poor."

  • Crux runs through an interesting comparison of Francis with, of all people, former USSR leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The piece notes that at the 10-year mark, Gorbachev had similarly shaken the institution he was running—just before it fell apart. The outlet notes that both leaders were and are popular abroad, but faced and face division from within—in Francis' case, from conservatives who are frustrated with his progressive moves, and "an impatient left increasingly hungry for actual revolution rather than mere reform."
  • NPR runs through some of those reforms and moves, including a deep clean at the scandal-plagued Vatican Bank, an embrace of environmentalism, a refusal to engage with culture wars, and most recently his statement that LGBTQ people "are children of God and God loves them." His typical signoff at his weekly message in St. Peter's Square: "Don't forget to pray for me. Have a great meal and arrivederci."
He has, however, managed to accidentally wade into some controversy about a certain gesture. (More Pope Francis stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.